I'm grateful for the opportunity to write in Aurora's, The Auroran Newspaper & repost them to this blog
Meeting with seniors
I was honoured to welcome Seniors Affairs Minister Dipika Damerla to our riding of Newmarket-Aurora last week as I hosted a roundtable with local seniors organizations. We discussed important seniors’ issues including housing, safety, elder abuse and Ontario’s soon-to-be unveiled Dementia Strategy. In a community where the senior’s population is growing faster than our youth population, it is vital that we address the concerns of our changing community.
The province is working with different partners across government to develop support services and resources that serve Ontario’s diverse seniors population. This includes, providing a guide to programs and services for seniors in Ontario and funding a seniors’ INFOline through Service Ontario that provides information in many languages other than English or French through a third-party interpreter service. The Seniors Community Grant program has also been successful in our riding. Over last three years this program has invested almost $23,000 for Newmarket-Aurora alone in four projects. This program is open again to applicants until March 3. Call my office to learn how to apply. After the roundtable, we attended the ribbon cutting of the Newmarket Fitness Centre at the Magna Centre, where several exercise stations are well-suited to seniors. The centre has state-of-the art machines and technology that allows members to track their progress on a smartphone app. Now it is easier for residents to get active and shape the way you live.
Last week the Ministry of Finance released our current economic statement. The numbers show that we are on track to balance the budget as promised. Strong economic growth and a responsible approach to fiscal management are enabling the government to continue making strategic investments that help Ontarians. The province’s economy continues to perform well and private-sector economists expect Ontario to be one of Canada’s fastest-growing provinces over the next two years. The economy continues to create jobs, and the unemployment rate in Ontario has been lower than the national average for 22 consecutive months. Balancing the budget in 2017-18 and supporting inclusive growth are part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives. While this is good news for residents in Newmarket-Aurora and across the province, we recognize more must be done to ensure everyone in our community can meet their potential. We are focused on growing Ontario’s export market and reducing red tape to create jobs.
This past Tuesday I took part in a Pre-Budget Telephone-Townhall with colleague and friend, Steven De Duca, MPP for Vaughan. The purpose was to reach out to constituents and find out what their issues are. The telephone town hall meeting was very successful, with more than 19,000 participants. We heard about what is important to the residents of Aurora and Newmarket. Job creation, balancing the budget, health care, education, childcare, infrastructure and public transit were all top-of-mind. Thank you to all the residents who participated and to those who reached out to my constituency office when they were unable to participate. This type of outreach helps me understand the best way to serve our amazing riding and make our communities even better.
Inn From the Cold
Saturday night I was honoured to once again be part of the Coldest Night of the Year walk, hosted by Inn From the Cold. This walk raises money for the hungry, the homeless and the hurting in over 100 communities across Canada. Since 2011, the Coldest Night of the Year has raised over $12 million dollars Canada wide. This year’s walk in Newmarket raised $50,000. As the Minister of Housing and the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, this organization and its cause is near and dear to my heart. It is important for me as an MPP and Minister to continue to support and collaborate with organizations such as Inn from the Cold. There were supporters at 113 different locations across Canada, with over 16,000 individuals walking. Newmarket’s walk exceeded their fundraising goal with help from 29 teams and 174 walkers. Thank you to everyone who bundled-up, walked and showed their support to help end homelessness.
Protecting Vulnerable Energy Consumers Act
Last week the government of Ontario passed the Protecting Vulnerable Energy Consumers Act. This new legislation gives the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) the power to end winter disconnections in our province. This means that local distribution companies in Ontario are banned from disconnecting any customers through to April 30, 2017. If any homes are disconnected they must be reconnected as soon as possible and at no charge. This is one more step in helping our most vulnerable across Ontario.
MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers moved a motion last Thursday asking the house to reconfirm Ontario’s strong position against discrimination and racism. Given the shootings at a Quebec mosque, her motion focused on anti-Muslim hatred, as well as all forms of racism and hatred. I am please to report that all parties supported her motion, with all leaders speaking in favour of it, and against racism and hatred.
As always, I invite you to contact me on any issue. Please call my community office at 905-750-0019, or visit my website at www.ChrisBallardMPP.ca. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
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